Writing

My own serious stuff; the craft itself; those who inspire me in it; the art of reading.

Literal Legend

2011.01.13
By

HE SAID HE WOULD FIGHT Wall Street, but it wasn’t long before he was brought down by a perplexed SWAT team.

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Five Words In Search Of A Context

2010.12.31
By

“FUN’S FUN, GENERAL. BUT THIS …”

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A Sack Of Cashews

2010.12.30
By

JINGLE. SLAM.

1978. THREE A.M. 7-Eleven. Very hungry. Looking for the little heat-lamp-warmed nut-variety display thing. Cashews are definitely NEEDED. NEEDED NOW.

No hot nuts.

Where are they? Slim Jims, jerky, rotating hot dogs, horoscopes? These are not hot nuts. Must have HOT NUTS.

Ask.

Ask the enormous scowling unfriendly muscled eyeglazed tattooed-before-soccer-moms-got-tattooed salesclerk.

Excuse me, do you have hot nuts?

Where’s your hot nut display?

I don’t see your hot nuts. Can I?

Jingle. Slam.

Sigh.

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“Thrustwell’s Tale, or Beware the Bottle”

2010.12.30
By

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE Renaissance Pleasure Faire and a guy named Greg Pursley, who hired me to help him sell fencing lessons in Elizabethan garb and accent. The Cardiff Rose was no mere concession but a virtual privateer, with each crewmember having a complete character history as an aid to improvisational acting. (Fun? “Those who know, grin.”) In the interests of all-in-one-eggbasketry writingwise, I’m including here my own, or rather that of “Will Thrustwell,” purple prose and all, just as written in 198…8? 9? It’s necessarily in-jokey for a tight circle of friends (and includes the origin of “Trolle Sweate,” a particularly potent potable with which “Thrustwell” is synonymous). Some of whom may get a bit of a nostalgic hoot hereout, others may simply enjoy. I know I did. (Even the “heaving, tortured bosom.”)

UPDATE: I just Googled “Will Thrustwell” on a whim. All I can say is, “If it’s not a pirate, it’s not me.”

Will Thrustwell, c. 1987

Fig. 1.

Thrustwell’s Tale, or Beware the Bottle
(Being the Somewhat Revised, yet Mercifully Succinct, History
of
WILL THRUSTWELL,
Senior Pilot of the
CARDIFF ROSE)

Set down by his good friend Peter Boggs, Special Correspondent to the London Illustrated News
Read more »

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Days Like Doors

2010.12.26
By

THERE ARE DAYS WHICH OPEN into unglimpsed circles that inspire and uplift.
And there are days which close the heart like a fist.
There are days when the angels sing within range of human ear
And days when all you hear is chopping.
There are days like green hills, a-prance with lambs,
And days like rotting undergrowth a-stench with mold and maggot.
All these days are given unto you,
like gloves God wears when He’s fixing something special
like small wandering children seeking a hand in the dark
like the door that opens into silence and light.

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What Do You Say To A Partly Naked Woman?

2010.12.15
By

SHE WAS WALKING UP THE hill toward us through the sea of sprawled bodies surrounding the stage at Laguna Seca Speedway, where some friends and I were enjoying three days of the Grateful Dead and Los Lobos in the summer of 1988.

My own life was at a crossroads. I was coming from a year aboard the Golden Hinde II (many stories there, oh yes) but hadn’t decided whether to hitchhike to Alaska and work on a fishing boat or return to the Northern California Renaissance Faire and eventually settle into landbound life. So I stayed for an indecisive interim with some Humboldt County friends who invited me to join them for the show.

(This was also the hitchhiking trip where I heard a sound from ‘midst the roadside bushes, stuck in my hand and pulled out a little black kitten. But that’s another story; or maybe just another part of the same old story.)

So there we were on the hillside between acts (Ralfh, Sputnik, a friend of Ralfh’s, and me), and here comes this partly naked woman. The event itself wasn’t strictly topless, although she was; straight red hair, green eyes, medium build, about my height, and the most striking expression: a mix of “I can’t believe I’m doing this” and “What’s the big deal?” She was angling up the hill, trailing headshakes and sympathetic laughter, perhaps to meet a friend or take in (or be) the all-encompassing view, and she was headed right at me.

As I am something of a magnet for strangeness, and because it was a Grateful Dead show, I would not have been surprised to know her. I didn’t, but as she passed she gave me a beatific and knowing smile.

“Don’t tell anyone I’m naked,” she said.

“I won’t,” I said.

And for 22 years, I didn’t. I hope that, at this late date, she forgives me.

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Pithyism #11

2010.11.30
By

TO WRITE WITH TRUTH AND heart, one must be able to see; and sometimes, to not look away.

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Prosatio Silban and the Escorter of the Dead

2010.11.24
By

FROM HIS GALLEYWAGON AT THE edge of Pormaris’ busy South Market, Prosatio Silban could see the funeral pyres at their greedy task.

It wasn’t the best location, but the result of being last through the gate of the City of Gourmands that morning with all the good spots already taken. And it wasn’t so much the spectacle which bothered Prosatio Silban as the lack of custom; mourners were a notoriously unhungry lot. Here it was approaching dinner, and he had not sold so much as a bowl of beans. Such is life, he thought, opening the ‘wagon door to a light salt breeze. Life’s only constancies are death and hunger, and like most extremes they make a poor mix.

The beefy cook stepped down from the galleywagon and stood, stretching, between the two tables he’d deployed earlier. His eyes swept the pyres: a long row of smoke- or flame-crowned mounds at the water’s edge, surrounded here and there by bowed figures. The muted rhythms of Uulian death chants were just audible under the bustling of the market-throng, like a burnt undercurrent in an otherwise delectable pilaf.

One mound was unaccompanied save for someone tall in a black robe and golden sunhat. Prosatio Silban’s eyes narrowed. The pyre couldn’t have been burning that long. The cook had noted the solitary mourner when he set up his tables.

The figure knelt, then arose, shoulders drooped. When she turned, Prosatio Silban looked into one of the saddest faces he’d ever seen. Each line had been etched by a hundred sorrows; the otherwise clear blue eyes were red with weeping; her gaunt cheeks were daubed with tears. She sighed, wiped her face with a handkerchief and looked vaguely about. Seeing Prosatio Silban’s galleywagon, she started toward it with surprisingly brisk step.

“Yes, madam? Something to comfort soul, or body?”

Her voice was like wheezy reeds, but warm. “Thank you,” she said, seating herself. “A simple cress-and-cheese horn would satisfy both, please. And a glass of blue duliac.”

Prosatio Silban bowed and stepped up into his galleywagon. He retrieved from his cold box a bundle of greens and three slices of pale yellow cheese, then selected from a basket a thick blue-rice crescent. He sliced open the latter, tucked in the former, and drew a thin stream of sapphire liquid from a large cask into a fluted glass tumbler.

He arranged it all on a painted wooden tray and set the meal before his customer. “Thank you,” she said. “What do I owe you?”

“I am the Cook for Any Price,” Prosatio Silban replied. “But this has been a slow day, and I am tempted to charge accordingly.”

She looked up at him. Her smile was like the sun rising behind a thunderhead, so much so that Prosatio Silban took a half-step back.

“Well, then, I am at your mercy,” she said. “I am not a woman of that many means.”

“Fortunately, your tastes are inexpensive,” Prosatio Silban said, then dropped his voice a touch. “And I am sympathetic. You have been at the pyres all day.”

“Yes?”

“Was the passed-on someone close to you?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

“I’m sorry?”

“I never know. That is why I am here.”

“I don’t understand …”

“It is a kindness I cannot repay.” Her voice was even, but her eyes remembered. “Do you have a family?”

“Not here.”

“Neither do they.”

She held Prosatio Silban’s eyes; realizing it, she looked away. “May I pay you for the meal?”

Prosatio Silban bowed. “You already have.”

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Kids! Choose-My-Adventure!

2010.11.17
By

THE AUTHOR, STUCK IN CREATIVE mud, is ringing the bell and asking your help with a new Prosatio Silban story (actually not so new, but currently under revision). To wit — which beginning is more intriguing:

“Of the numberless creatures in the Land of Exiles, none are so quaint as the lumbering buopoth – and though no two descriptions agree as to the shy animal’s exact appearance at any given time, Prosatio Silban felt he knew every pore and curve in his great beast’s backside. This knowledge was not his from prurience, however; he had stared at little else for the past three days.”

… OR …

“There is one road through the flat and sweltering Western Wides, as the Huuans call the vast plain between their river-girdling Commonwell and the song-shrouded coastal city of Aydnzmir, and its week-long passage promised to the occasional traveler little more than an exercise in creative tedium.”

???

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Tools: Spacejock Software

2010.11.12
By

THIS POST IS BEING WRITTEN in yEdit, one of Simon Haynes‘ many fine Spacejock Software products. He doesn’t know I’m writing it, and until I stumbled across his website I didn’t know he was a famous Australian science-fiction author with a taste for helping others get started in the field.

But as he offers some really neato tools for writing — yEdit, a text editor which lets you set a word-count target and track it as you type; Sonar, which manages story submissions; yTimer, like yEdit but in minutes instead of words; and the novel-assisting yWriter — as well as some sound advice (well, it helped me anyway). Check his site for additional tools and links to what looks like one hell of a terrific space-opera self-parody.

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Election Day Haiku

2010.11.02
By

God who hears all, please –
Don’t let the idiots win.
Please. Please. Please. Please. Please.

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A Haiku For The SF Giants, After Seeing My First Giants Game Last Night

2010.10.28
By

Tim Lincecum’s face
Passionate with the sad news:
Strike one. Two. Three. Next!

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